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Data Description and the Terminal Approach

Presenter 1
Dan Gillman
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

At the IASSIST 2006 conference, we showed how a datum is a designation in the theory of terminology for special languages (The Nature of Data). Now we show that the description of a datum is terminological, also. Even though metadata are designations in the terminological sense, this not our focus. We mean that the metadata describing a datum follow the basic terminology framework consisting of concepts, their characteristics, and properties associated with those characteristics. There are 3 inter-relating components of the description of a datum: representation, datatype, and semantics. Therefore, the talk will focus on the basic terminological framework, the components of the description of a datum, how those components fit together, and how the components fit into the terminological framework. Finally, since the conference is about social science data, all the examples will come from statistical surveys. For example, we will show how the kinds of statistical data (nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio) are really constituents of datatypes. In addition, units of measure, often associated with quantitative data, are seen as the bridge between datatypes and semantics. A full descriptive framework for a datum will be the result.

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